Saturday, 24 March 2012

With last year’s update to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, there were a lot of questions about how the education benefits worked for current and former service members. There are strict policies that regulate who can use these benefits and how they are to be used. If you are eligible, you can receive full tuition and living expenses paid for going to college. That kind of benefit is hard to come by in an economy like this one.

For that reason, many returning military men and women seek degrees as soon as they are done with active duty, some even before. There are a lot of ways to get a degree even before you are done with military service. 

For example, many colleges have distance learning programs specifically designed for active duty military personnel, or you could pick up a degree program from an online university. The changes that went into effect now cover students who go to school completely online as well as attend a traditional brick and mortar school, which makes military benefits an ideal way to get a degree without paying anything.

There are so many degree programs that can benefit someone with military experience, and employers look for that kind of experience on resumes to show that you have worked with the materials, technology and theories in the field. You should always do a bit of degree research to get an idea of the program, what careers you can go into and how the courses will favor towards your interests.

You have to have an honorable discharge in order to use these G.I. Bill benefits. It’s important that you check your status when you are discharged to ensure that you can use the G.I. Bill, otherwise you may waste your time. It’s best to check with the Department of Veterans Affairs to see what you qualify for and what G.I. Bill is right for you. There are two popular G.I. Bill options for education, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill or Montgomery G.I. Bill. Each also has separate programs within the bill to give you even more aid for college, such as the Yellow Ribbon program.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill offers the most education benefits. You get 100 percent paid tuition on any type of education level, from associate’s to master’s degree, a monthly housing stipend, and a stipend of up to $1,000 per year for books and supplies. This is only for students who are full time. If you are part-time, then you only receive a portion of the payment. Payment rates are also paid according to the length of your period of service, so again, it’s important to check with VA and ask questions about your education if you’re just getting started.

Basically, you can use these benefits for any type of school, whether you want to go to a traditional brick and mortar college, or you want to attend a private online college. Your G.I. Bill benefits apply to either institution. There is a limit to private institution tuition, however, which is about $17,500 per year, so if you are attending a private school, then you will have to deal with a cap. The school is also the recipient of your tuition and fees, so your courses will already be covered once you register.

If you do choose to go to school full time, you also have some other major benefits. Your living expenses are paid for through the housing stipend, which is based on the monthly basic allowance for housing. This is beneficial if you’re an individual or if you have family, in which case you get an increased amount.

You get a housing stipend even if you choose to take online courses, so it may be beneficial to work from home and take care of obligations, while also working on a degree if you have a busy schedule or you’re still on active duty, even if you are just taking care of children. It’s much better with flexible options and different degree programs that are just as diverse as the options you’ll find at a public four-year institution.


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